Friday, May 12, 2006


These guys sweep our streets everyday. SP fact: There are more than 5,000 garis (street-sweepers) working in the city, where more than 10 million people leave. They have this uniform in bright colors so we don't hit them with our cars. They're paid minimum wage, BRL 350/month (approx. US$170). Now, you really have to be an honest person to work for such low money. I can only imagine how hard it is to decide to do a crappy job like this for money that is far from enough to live a decent life instead of becoming a drug dealer or a thief. The problem with these guys - and many other workers - is that they don't have much education and if they do, it's public education, which is really, really bad, except for our universities, that are among the best in Latin America.

Marlene, the cleaning lady who comes to my house once a week, makes more than that. She gets paid BRL 55.00/day (approx. US$26.00), so she probably makes, like, BRL 800.00/month (US$388). As you can see, unlike what happens in other countries, we get paid by month - with few exceptions - and not by the hour or by week.

Okay, I don't mean to shock you, but the best EFL (English as a Foreign Language) schools pay approx. BRL 13.00/hour (US$7.50). Classes are 1 or 1.5 hour long. So we have to get as many classes as we can to get decent money. Of course there will be teachers who'll make more money, depending on the qualification they have.

Photo by Beth; text by Ione.


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9:16 AM  

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